Francine Prose

  • culture September 20, 2016

    The Trouble with Sombreros

    In early September, the novelist Lionel Shriver gave a speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival in which she expressed her hope that identity politics and the concept of cultural appropriation would turn out to be passing fads. During her lecture, several audience members walked out in protest, and the text of her address has sparked a controversy that has spread across the Internet and the British and American press. It has stoked a debate already raging on college campuses, in the literary world, in the fashion and music industries, on city streets, and in other areas of our social and political

  • culture October 23, 2012

    Junot Diaz, Beyond the Circle of Hell

    When his first short-story collection, Drown, was published in 1996, Junot Díaz was hailed as a writer who spoke to his readers from a world, and in a voice, that had never before appeared on the page. No one else had conveyed, with quite such immediacy, the experience of Dominican-Americans inhabiting two countries and two cultures without feeling entirely at home in either. No one had made us so acutely aware of the fact that, for a large segment of our population, immigration is not a singular event but a way of life involving travel to and from the homeland, journeys with the power to

  • Altar Ego

    One of my high school summer jobs involved washing test tubes and pretending to be an apprentice research assistant in a biochemistry lab at a hospital in Manhattan. My coworkers, the actual researchers, had followed their boss, the senior scientist, from a midwestern university. All women, all blond, they seemed to share some arcane knowledge beyond the scientific and to be bound by some common thread beyond their professional and collegial connection.

    One outward manifestation of this mysterious bond was that each wore a heavy ring engraved with a dollar sign. They patiently explained to me

  • Best Adaptations


    HOUSEHOLD SAINTS (Nancy Savoca, 1993) Perhaps it’s narcissistic, but I have to say that my favorite adaptation is of my novel. By now, the book and the film have so melded in my mind, I picture Lili Taylor and Judith Malina when I think of the grandmother and granddaughter I created.

    WISE BLOOD (John Huston, 1979) This adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s novel features the great Harry Dean Stanton as the blind preacher.

    THE TIN DRUM (Volker Schlöndorff, 1979) The little boy is amazing, and the eel and horsehead scene is just as upsetting as it is in the novel.